Palawan is a long, thin island in the eastern Philippines. Travellers normally visit the north, which has spectacular sights, but the most adventurous will want to make their way to the south, which has untouched hillsides and beaches that give quiet a whole new meaning, but becomes harder to navigate the further south you go.
Even Puerto Princesa, the provincial capital and part of the northern attractions, is a much more natural than any other city in the Philippines. Its streets are clean and lined with trees, and several beautiful nature preserves are within easy reach, including coral reefs, waterfalls and rock formations. But the most famous attraction is the Underground River, a 8.2 kilometre subterranean section of the Cabayugan River cool enough to make the New 7 Wonders of Nature list. You’ll see why after a guided boat tour through caverns so big you can’t see the ceilings, past multi-coloured and jagged rock formations, bats, and "the Cathedral" chamber where stones resemble Jesus and other religious figures.
El Nido is the secluded, beautiful and fun northernmost area of Palawan. Here you can sip cheap beer and munch on local snacks along the roadside in between heart-pounding treks and mountain bike rides along the awe-inspiring terrain – Mount Taraw offers some of the best views. The beaches here are definitely not the best, but hop on a boat for a short trip to the sun-kissed bays of the Bacuit archipelago.
A good place to take the step into the spectacular south is Narra, a peaceful town with superb beaches and wildlife. Rasa Island just offshore is the only place you can see the critically endangered Philippine Cockatoo in the wild, and if you are a diver, you may be lucky enough to see a green turtle gliding majestically through the clear blue waters as reefs burst with marine life below. Inland you’ll find the Estrella Waterfalls, a nice place to swim in Palawan’s clean fresh water for a change as the thick green forest provides shade from the sun and the waterfall splashes over rocks in the background.
It’s hard to learn about the intense natural splendour of Palawan and not want to jump on a plane right now. Tell you wot, we’ll help you out with some fantastic rates on flights to the Philippines and your choice from our Palawan accommodation list. After that, this gem of a destination is yours for the taking.
Hotels in Palawan start at AU$19 per night. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.